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I am the last of the brood.

How I know this for a fact is a mystery, but I do as soon as my eyes open and I become aware of the others zipping around and feeding voraciously while I can barely even wriggle. It takes some time for me to move out of range, squirming slowly away from the brittle remnants of the shell I just emerged from to a portion of our living nest where I can lie in peace without getting in anyone’s way. The biggest of us I sense is half a body bigger than me, but it isn’t a good idea to leave anything to chance. All it takes is one wayward bite and the rest will quickly converge. The feeding instinct does not discriminate flesh.

In a few hours the rest of the yolk in the sac I came with is gone, and afterwards there is nothing to do but feed like the rest, sleep, and patiently wait for the exodus that nature says will come.


It is time, and the first of us (a male) moves to the wall. His initial bite is tentative, but the second and third are surer and stronger. In a short while I see a point of light filter in, a sure sign that he has successfully broken through to the outside.

The others take the cue and join him. In no time it is a stampede as many follow his path, but many more make their own and the light from their exits increasingly illuminate the place. The earthy smell of the world beyond is rich and inviting as it rushes in with the cold air. My eyes gradually adjust.

I am the last of the brood.

Fully aware of my place I patiently maintain my position until they have all left and the nest is no longer twitching, but lies almost lifeless. Before taking my leave I wander around its empty chambers for one last time, storing the chemical memories that will last me a lifetime and looking at what will someday become of my own being. Yes I am female, and instinct tells me that this fate awaits my future.

The heart is still there, although mutilated and barely beating.

I am the last of the brood, so it is my duty (so says instinct) to deal the mortal blow. Baby teeth sink into soft dark flesh and tear out the last of its essence.

It trembles, and finally stops. A mother’s duty is completed at last.

Armed with the knowledge I need and bristling with eager curiosity like the rest of my kin, I find a hole and rush out to meet the rest of creation.


“Hey Amity, come see this.”

She ran up to him panting.

“What…what is it Jelenke?”

He was bent over, looking at something in the grass.

“It’s a snake of some sort” he responded.  “And its body is punctured all over…”

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